A distinguished member of The University of Queensland's community, Bille Brown, died on Sunday, aged 61.
It is understood the veteran thespian had terminal cancer and died in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon, two days after his 61st birthday.
Professor Joanne Tompkins, Head of UQ’s School of English, Media Studies, and Art History said he was a lovely, generous, larger than life figure.
Born in Biloela in Central Queensland, Professor Brown completed a Bachelor of Arts at UQ and a Postgraduate Diploma of Education in the early seventies.
More recently, he was named an Adjunct Professor in Drama.
Over the years UQ students and staff were privileged to benefit from Bille’s experience as a performer across many different types of stage plays and films.
“Recently, he brought his latest play to UQ students on two occasions for a rehearsed reading to both hear how the play sounded and to demonstrate to students the craft of writing and rewriting,” Professor Tompkins said.
“Bille’s relationship provided students with a window into the performance industry.
“He was an alumnus who generously shared his experiences with students.
“This is a significant loss for the UQ community.
“He crafted a career in a very difficult industry, whilst returning to the universty to read and to expand his intellectual horizons.
“That was part of what made him successful in the theatre world”.
Brown began his career in the 1970s alongside Geoffrey Rush in the early days of the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC).
His connection with the QTC would span over four decades.
During his career, Brown was cast in numerous stage productions in the UK, US and Australia and produced four of his own written works.
He had particular success at the QTC with his biographical play, Bill and Mary, about Australian artist Dame Mary Gilmore.
Professor Brown received a number of awards during his distinguished career both in Australia and abroad.
In 2001, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University and in 2011 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.
During his student days at St Lucia, Professor Brown acted with the student drama company Dramsoc and made his professional debut with the QTC in 1971.
His first main stage production was Wrong Side of the Moon in the same year.
Following his apprenticeship in the early years of the QTC, Professor Brown’s career took him abroad to Britain where he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and made his name as an international Shakespeare performer.
After he left the RSC, Brown’s roles on the stage were diverse: from performing Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss to contemporary Australian theatre roles.
He also crafted an extensive career in film, from several John Cleese films to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
In recent years, Brown became familiar to Australian television audiences with notable roles in Rake, Curtin, Grass Roots and Wild Boys.
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